Conditional warning for lawyer over breached gag order in molestation case involving doctor

Mr Johannes Hadi was given a discharge and conditional warning. PHOTO: EUGENE THURAISINGAM LLP

SINGAPORE - A lawyer charged with breaching a gag order aimed at protecting the identity of a woman linked to a molestation case was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal in a district court on Wednesday.

Mr Johannes Hadi, 32, from the Eugene Thuraisingam law firm, was also given a conditional warning.

He was handed two charges under the State Courts Act in April over sharing with members of the press unredacted information that could lead to the identification of the woman.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, the Attorney-General's Chambers (AGC) said Mr Hadi may be prosecuted on the same charges if he were to re-offend.

Its spokesman added that the prosecution had applied for the discharge after taking into account the fact that, among other things, Mr Hadi was a junior lawyer who had acted under the instructions and supervision of the case's lead counsel Eugene Thuraisingam.

Mr Hadi said he had no comments when ST asked him about the court's decision on Wednesday.

On Aug 30, Mr Thuraisingam, 47, a veteran criminal lawyer with his own practice, was fined $4,000 for breaching a gag order, an offence under the State Courts Act.

A second charge under the same Act was considered during sentencing.

According to court documents, Mr Thuraisingam had asked Mr Hadi to distribute transcripts to the press that were likely to lead to the identification of the woman, who had accused a doctor of molestation.

The two lawyers were part of a team that had represented Dr Yeo Sow Nam, then 52.

All details that could have lead to the identity of Dr Yeo's accuser could not be revealed due to a gag order, as she could have been a victim of a sexual crime.

Dr Yeo had been accused of molesting the woman on the 12th storey of Mount Elizabeth Hospital on the evening of Oct 9, 2017.

Among other things, Mr Thuraisingam had, in August last year, instructed Mr Hadi to distribute to members of the media the transcripts of the trial and their law firm's written submissions.

However, he did not tell Mr Hadi to redact all the information that could lead to the revelation of the woman's identity.

Mr Hadi then e-mailed the documents to members of the media - including those from Singapore Press Holdings and Mediacorp - on Aug 11 last year, with only her name redacted.

Other information that could lead to her identity being revealed such as her age, her current employer, and her occupation at the time of the alleged acts of molestation, were not redacted.

On Aug 16 last year, the court granted the prosecution's application to withdraw the charges against Dr Yeo.

He was also given a discharge amounting to an acquittal. This means he cannot be charged again with the same offences.

The AGC had earlier said that it would not be taking action against the woman.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.